Well … that sucked. It’s easy after a 38-2 season to throw up the warning flag and pull a full fledged freakout about UK’s loss to Duke, but guess what? The kids will be alright. Tons of pundits predicted in glee that Kentucky could start out 0-2 on the season, but Kentucky gutted out a tough win over Maryland and pushed Duke to the edge last night but a late comeback came up short. Mark down the first two games of the season as a learning opportunity, and mark my words, Kentucky will improve from this. There is no need to freak out and losses suck, but I have a few last takeaways and then we can leave it up to John Calipari to build on this loss and move on:
- Rebounding was better but still not where it needs to be – For the game, Duke out-rebounded Kentucky 31-30 and Duke had 11 offensive rebounds to Kentucky’s 9. This did improve as the game went on as UK did not allow an offensive rebound the last 11 minutes or so, but Kentucky was still out of position on several occasions. Alex Poythress was especially impressive on the boards and came up with five offensive boards. Kyle Wiltjer had just two rebounds and he simply must get more aggressive on the boardsw.
- Basic defense > than block party – Nothing impacts the game like a block, but Noel and Cauley-Stein need to get better disciplined on when to go for the block. On a couple occasions, both UK players whiffed on a block attempt by Curry and were out of position, allowing Hairston to get an easy second chance basket.
- Youth will be served – Despite the loss, we saw glimpses of excellence from Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Alex Poythress and all improved as the game went on. Noel needs to develop a mean streak and he was soft at times when Duke was building their lead. Goodwin plays out of control but you can not blame him. It’s tough enough to adjust to the college game versus Duke, but Goodwin found himself having to play the point some which he was not ready for. In Feburary, these points will be moot, so have patience.
- This teams needs Ryan Harrow – I like how Julius Mays played, but its unfair to expect Polson to perform against Duke. Polson will have some moments this year, but this will be Harrow’s team and he has just played 10 minutes this year.
Today marks the first day of the Fall Signing Period and the Harrisons may not sign their LOI until the Spring period. Once again, there is no reason to panic as they are just holding out as a precaution in the unlikely event of a coaching change or something like that. Translation, Maryland boosters are in their ears about Calipari going to the NBA. But there is no need to fret. The Harrisons are solid Kentucky commits, so leave them alone on Twitter about this. Aaron Harrison Sr did not rule out this possibility that his sons may still sign in the early period and had this to say:
“They’re not holding out. They’re not waiting to see if anybody’s leaving. They’re going to Kentucky”
The rest of the class (James Young, Marcus Lee, and Derek Willis will all sign between now and November 21.
Last night was also a tough night for the UK Hoops squad as the #6 Wildcats were trounced by the #1 Baylor Bears 85-51. That may just be an indication of how good the Bears are though:
After unfurling their 2012 national championship banner high from the rafters at the Ferrell Center before the game, the Lady Bears (2-0) went on to build a 46-19 halftime lead. That was against a team that returned four starters and is favored to repeat as SEC champions.
Griner scored 27 points with eight rebounds, while Odyssey Sims added 18 points with six assists and four steals. Destiny Williams had 14 points and 12 rebounds.